Gordon Parks: Segregation Story in Mobile, 1956

Posted on: June 17th, 2020

Gordon Parks: Segregation Story in Mobile, 1956

January 16 – December 31, 2021

Mobile Museum of Art brings the iconic photographs by Gordon Parks during the Jim Crow era back to the city where they were captured with the special exhibition, Gordon Parks: Segregation Story in Mobile, 1956.

This exhibition of photographs documents the everyday activities and rituals of one extended black family, the Thorntons, in Mobile and Shady Grove, Alabama, during segregation. The images were originally published in a 1956 photo essay by Parks, an assignment from Life magazine after the Montgomery bus boycotts, but have come to be known around the world for helping to inspire the Civil Rights movement.

In an essay accompanying the portfolio of photographs Segregation Story produced in 2012 by The Gordon Parks Foundation, noted American cultural historian and art critic Maurice Berger explains,

“These quiet, compelling photographs elicit a reaction that Parks believed was critical to undoing racial prejudice: empathy. Throughout his career, he endeavored to help viewers, white and black, understand and share the feelings of others. It was with this goal in mind that he set out to document the lives of the Thornton family, creating images meant to alter the way Americans viewed one another and, ultimately, themselves.”

These photographs are lent to MMofA by the Gordon Parks Foundation.

 Exhibition generously underwritten by Mobile County Commissioner, Merceria Ludgood

Title 1 school program support for the project from the Altmayer Foundation

Community Programming support by Mobile City Council members:  Joel Daves (District 5), Gina Gregory (District 7), Bess Rich (District 6), Frederick D. Richardson, Jr. (District 1), C.J. Small (District 3), and John C. Williams (District 4).  Mr. Williams will support a lecture by Dr. John Edwin Mason, author of an upcoming book on Gordon Parks.

Content created for the special exhibition

Toward Equal Justice: A Conversation

Generous support for this video provided by Art Bridges.

Gallery guides provided

Toward Equal Justice: A Legacy of Resistance, Sacrifice, and Service
Timeline of Mobile Civil Rights events and African American history created in conjunction with special exhibition, Gordon Parks: Segregation Story in Mobile, 1956.

NATIONAL CIVIL RIGHTS TIMELINE: A Selection of Some of the Movement’s Most Important Events

GORDON PARKS: Segregation Story in Mobile, 1956



Dori DeCamillis: READ MY MIND

Posted on: January 10th, 2020



February 7, 2020 – November 29, 2020

Artist Dori DeCamillis’ paintings are self-portraits depicting her own states of mind. Each piece is a character designed to personify her ever-changing thought patterns, habits, and perspectives. These individual parts of her personality are painted as they come up in her life—they reveal human attributes that everyone can relate to.

Dori has exhibited her paintings in museums and galleries across the country and abroad, including a solo show at the Birmingham Museum of Art in 2000. Sherry Frumkin Gallery in Los Angeles hosted 5 sell-out shows of her work from 1996 through 2002. Her work has been featured in national newspapers and magazines, and she has won over 40 exhibition awards. Dori is now co-owner of Red Dot Gallery in Birmingham, a teaching space, art gallery, and working studio.

Dori’s work will be on view in MMofA’s Front + Center gallery and available for purchase in The Art Store.

AR-ZUMA by Paula Straw

Posted on: November 15th, 2019

AR-ZUMA by Paula Straw

January 3 – March 1, 2020

Art quilting is one of my passions. It stirs my consciousness. When I first saw the 1912 photograph of Ar-Zuma with her grandchildren, I was compelled to know her story and create a piece of art.

Ar-Zuma was illegally smuggled into Mobile Bay, Alabama in 1860 on the last known slave ship, the Clotilda. After emancipation, she began her courageous life in the town known today as Africatown, Alabama.

The quilt, Ar-Zuma, evolved in layers of a printed photograph, hand-dyed cheese cloth, and organza overlays of sketches, photographs, and documents. The layers are anchored with hand embroidery and free motion machine quilting.

The doorway is quilted with the words of Cudjo Lewis, also a captive of the Clotilda. The ‘rocks’ at the base of the quilt honor other persons aboard the Clotilda. Hand calligraphy embellishes the backing of the quilt with the words of our forefathers’ declaration: “We hold these truths to be self evident that all men are created equal…”

The quilt Ar-Zuma and her grandchildren received the President’s Award at the 2019 Black Canyon Quilt Show of Western Colorado for best exemplifying the theme of Liberty.

I grew up in Louisville, Kentucky, with devoted parents and 4 siblings. I knew from an early age I was happiest when sewing with my mother’s 1938 Kenmore Deluxe sewing machine.

I graduated from the University of Kentucky in 1979 with a BS degree in Nursing, and spent 30 rewarding years as a Pediatric RN.

Now 62 years old and retired, I have the time to pursue my interests in the textile arts. I am largely self-taught. I seek out other art quilters and workshops to continue to grow creatively. I live in western Colorado with my husband, John. Together we share interests in cycling, hiking, fly fishing, skiing, history, and world traveling.

BESA: A Code of Honor

Posted on: November 13th, 2019

BESA: A Code of Honor

January 17, 2020 – December 31, 2020

All photographs in this exhibition are by Norman H. Gershman

BESA: A Code of Honor is about the ‘Righteous Among the Nations’ – non-Jews who risked their lives saving Jews during the Holocaust. It is comprised of portraits and texts about Muslim families in Albania, who saved Jews during the Holocaust, converging between two seemingly opposed worlds. The remarkable assistance afforded to Jews during this time is grounded in BESA, the code of honor which still exists today. This help should be understood as a matter of national honor. These acts originated from compassion, loving kindness and a desire to help those in need – even those of another faith or origin.

Albania, a small and mountainous country on the southeast coast of the Balkan peninsula, was home to a population of 803,000. Of those only two hundred were Jews. After Hitler’s rise to power in 1933, many Jews found refuge in Albania. No accurate figures exist regarding their number; however, different sources estimate that 600-1,800 Jewish refugees entered that country from Germany, Austria, Serbia, Greece and Yugoslavia, in the hope to continue on to the Land of Israel or other places of refuge.

Following the German occupation in 1943, the Albanian population, in an extraordinary act, refused to comply with the occupier’s orders to turn over lists of Jews residing within the country’s borders. Moreover, the various governmental agencies provided many Jewish families with fake documentation that allowed them to intermingle amongst the rest of the population. The Albanians not only protected their Jewish citizens, but also provided sanctuary to Jewish refugees who had arrived in Albania, when it was still under Italian rule, and now found themselves faced with the danger of deportation to concentration camps.

The remarkable assistance afforded to the Jews was grounded in Besa, a code of honor which still today serves as the highest ethical code in the country. Besa, means literally “to keep the promise.” One who acts according to Besa is someone who keeps his word, someone to whom one can trust one’s life and the lives of one’s family.

The help afforded to Jews and non-Jews alike should be understood as a matter of national honor. The Albanians went out of their way to provide assistance; moreover, they competed with each other for the privilege of saving Jews. These acts originated from compassion, loving-kindness and a desire to help those in need, even those of another faith or origin.

Albania, the only European country with a Muslim majority, succeeded in the place where other European nations failed. Almost all Jews living within Albanian borders during the German occupation, those of Albanian origin and refugees alike, were saved, except members of a single family. Impressively, there were more Jews in Albania at the end of the war than beforehand.

For more information about the Righteous Among the Nations, visit the American Society for Yad Vashem website>>

About this exhibition, al.com says:

“In a world that tends to focus on extraordinary heroes wearing capes and wielding amazing powers, it’s good to be reminded that heroes can be very ordinary people too.”

Sponsored by:
Gulf Coast Center for the Holocaust and Human Rights Education
Mobile Area Jewish Federation
Mobile Jewish Film Festival
City of Mobile


SOUTHERN MASTERS II: Pinky MM Bass, Ruth Miller, & Miriam N. Omura

Posted on: November 12th, 2019


Pinky MM Bass, Ruth Miller, & Miriam N. Omura

February 7, 2020 – November 29, 2020

In this exhibition, three artists living and working in the South—Pinky MM Bass, Ruth Miller, and Miriam N. Omura—dissect, manipulate, and push the historically feminine domestic practices of sewing, weaving, embroidery, applique, and crochet into new territory. These artists are masters of their medium who have developed labor-intensive creative processes over many years, and created work that is anything but domestic or traditional. Each artist, with her own unique voice and background, explores themes of identity, culture, race, aging, and inner reflection. This exhibition presents a selection of work from throughout their careers that embodies these themes.


An Art Historian Collects: The David E. Brauer Collection

Posted on: November 12th, 2019


The David E. Brauer Collection
February 7, 2020 – November 29, 2020

This exhibition explores the question, “what does an art historian collect?”

Art was the focus of Houston-based art historian David E. Brauer’s professional life for well over half a century. Brauer considered his idiosyncratic, personal art collection more an “accumulation” rather than a collection, reflecting the chance encounters and opportunities in his life’s experience.

For the purposes of this exhibition, the Mobile Museum of Art organized the work into 4 categories:  European, Asian, American, (with subset of Texas art), and artists of the U.K..  There are artworks by the famous and unknown in the history of art, but all reflect the collector’s profession, life experience and diverse interests ranging from NASA’s space program to poetry, literature, and music.

Born in Scotland and raised in London, Brauer attended London’s St. Martin’s School of Art (1960 – 1965), where he studied both studio art and art history. Prior to moving to Houston in 1976, Brauer worked at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London and the Museum of Modern Art, Oxford, and taught at North Oxfordshire College of Art and Technology. Brauer is the former head of the History of Art Department of the Glassell School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Over the course of 30+ years, he taught at the University of Houston, Rice University, and the erudite Women’s Institute of Houston. He has curated and co-curated many exhibitions, including a seminal 2001 exhibition, “Pop Art: U.S./U.K. Connections: 1956-1966” at the Menil Collection in Houston.

Prior to this exhibition, only small selections of Brauer’s collection have been seen publicly.

Key-Sook Geum

Posted on: September 25th, 2019

October 11, 2019 – January 24, 2021

Visit Mobile Museum of Art’s Rodning Asian Gallery to see new work from Key-Sook Geum, on loan from Callan Contemporary, New Orleans.

Key-Sook Geum creates immaculate sculptural objects, dually inspired by traditional Korean garment forms and the lineage of haute couture. Time intensive and meticulous in execution, at once delicate and dramatic, these conceptual sculptures embody spiritual and humanistic ideals that resonate across cultures. With silk gauze, faceted beads, crystals, coral, and semiprecious stones interwoven with red, black, and silver wire, Geum integrates Eastern and Western notions of positive and negative space. In wall-based works as well as hanging mobiles, the sculptures are exquisitely responsive to variations in natural and directional lighting, casting prismatic webs of light and shadow. The forms and shadows move subtly as their contours flutter on air currents in the room, quivering like flower petals and evoking the East Asian concept of “qi,” the life-breath that vibrates within our awareness.

geumA professor emerita of textile arts and fashion design at Hongik University (Seoul), Geum has exhibited in cultural capitals such as New York, Chicago, Berlin, Vienna, Beijing, and Tokyo, and has been commissioned by major international corporations to create monumental installations as much as four to ten stories high. She received global acclaim as costume director for the opening and closing ceremonies at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, where her innovative designs were praised by critics as unique in the history of the Olympic Games. Her sculptural works are included in institutional collections such as the University of British Columbia (Vancouver) and the China National Silk Museum (Hangzhou), as well as in significant corporate and private collections around the world.

This selection of work will be presented alongside work from the MMofA collection.

FROM FORT TO PORT & BEYOND: An Architectural History of Mobile

Posted on: August 28th, 2019

FROM FORT TO PORT & BEYOND: An Architectural History of Mobile

October 11, 2019 – March 29, 2020

Architecture is generally defined as the art and science of designing structures (buildings) and urban spaces. Such design, of necessity, reflects the social and cultural values of people and their collective sense of place and community.

This exhibition, organized by the Mobile Museum of Art with guest curator and architectural historian, Cart Blackwell, explores the architectural history of this extraordinary community—one of the twenty oldest continuously inhabited cities in the United States. Presented through a selective timeline of photographs, models, architectural plans, maps, elevations, building materials, videotaped interviews and tours, and publications—the exhibition documents the changing social and cultural story of its places and people over a period of centuries, spanning Mobile’s unique and long history.

The exhibition’s development is guided by architectural historian, Cartledge Blackwell III, with several consulting historians and curators, including Joycelyn Finley, Paige Largue, Tom McGehee, Stephen McNair, Philip Carr and John Sledge. Additional support is provided by Mobile area architects Douglas Kearley and Nick Holmes III.

SOUTHERN MASTERS: Casey Downing Jr., Bruce Larsen, and Nall

Posted on: February 18th, 2019


Casey Downing Jr.   |   Bruce Larsen   |   Nall

July 12, 2019 – January 5, 2020

We invited three unique and larger-than-life artists from Alabama to step outside the box and create major installations that represent the history of their work, as well as their creative processes.

This exhibition is a rare glimpse into their worlds, their distinct perspectives and unique styles. All three of these artists have worked tirelessly over the years and with great passion. Each is a true master.

Included in this exhibition are works by three emerging Alabama artists selected by our SOUTHERN MASTERS as promising future masters.

Brock Larsen | William Legg | Jennifer White

This exhibition is generously underwritten by:
Susan Houston
The HOUSTONVEGAS Charitable Fund



Posted on: February 3rd, 2019


July 12, 2019 – January 5, 2020

Lee Hoffman exhibited nationally and was a beloved painter and art personality of the Mobile area along with his wife and fellow artist, Kaye Wall Hoffman. This exhibition shows the diverse and ever changing talents of Hoffman’s career from 1960 until his passing in 2010.

Many might think Lee Hoffman was a native Mobilian, but he grew up in Colorado, where he earned a BFA in art education at the University of Colorado. He later moved to Seattle and earned an MFA in painting from the University of Washington. He moved to Mobile and began teaching at Spring Hill College in 1963. Five years later, Hoffman began teaching at the University of South Alabama (USA), where he remained for 31 years.

His teaching duties at USA included painting and portraiture – and occasionally summer watercolor classes in Paris.

“I would take students all over Paris. We got to experience different ways of life, diverse architecture and great paintings.”

He loved teaching and strongly expressed to his students the need to see art in person:

“Not only the size, but the paint quality is different. For example, a lot of the roughness that is in Matisse’s paintings does not show up in pictures. Look at the actual painting, and his paint is very thin. Sometimes it has been scraped over several times. Picasso, on the other hand, used a lot of the impasto and built-up paint, like in the ‘Girl Before the Mirror’. That thing is a jewel. The paint glows, it’s so rich. But, you do not see that in slides or pictures. So you have a completely different sensation from the painting.”

In the mid-1970s, Hoffman traded his oil paints for watercolors. After a few years of experimentation, he settled in comfortably as an on-location (or plein aire) painter of outdoor scenes. Later, in the early 2000’s he returned to his studio for inspiration.

Lee M. Hoffman’s contribution to the Mobile arts community is undeniable. He was a great teacher and consummate artist who worked lovingly, methodically and with perfect mastery of whatever medium he approached.

This exhibition is generously underwritten by:

Louise and Henry P. Cate, Jr.
(Lee Hoffman’s extended family)

Dr. and Mrs. Charles Rodning
in Honor of the families of Christopher Bernard, Soren Piers and Kai Johannes Rodning

Exhibition Organized by: Stan Hackney

Quotes Published: Mobile Bay Monthly, October 2008, by Adrian Hoff